The body of a third Southern California Marine who died in a suicide bombing in Afghanistan last month was returning home Tuesday.
Lance Cpl. Dylan Merola, of Rancho Cucamonga, was flown to Ontario International Airport prior to a procession through his hometown on the way to his final resting place at Forest Lawn Covina Hills.
Merola’s arrival at the airport was a private event reserved for family and loved ones, but the public was encouraged to line the procession route and show its support.
The procession left the airport about 5:45 p.m. and passed by Los Osos High School, where Merola graduated. The street in front of the campus was filled with people eager to pay their respects.
“I think what’s going on is tough for all of us,” said Ken Kramer, a Rancho Cucamonga resident. “And I think being out here supporting our military is the American way.”
From there, the procession went onto the westbound 210 Freeway, then took the southbound 57 Freeway and finally the westbound 10 Freeway to Forest Lawn, located at 21300 Via Verde St.
See below for full procession route and map
Merola, 20, was one of 13 U.S. service members killed in an Aug. 26 attack as he was supporting evacuation operations outside the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul.
His awards include the Purple Heart, National Defense Service Medal and Global War on Terrorism Service Medal. Additional awards pending approval may include the Combat Action Ribbon and Sea Service Deployment Ribbon.
Merola was honored earlier this month during a remembrance in Rancho Cucamonga.
“I love you son, and I can’t imagine living this life without you in it,” Merola’s mother Cheryl Rex said to the hundreds gathered in the city’s Central Park Freedom Courtyard.
The public is also invited to attend Merola’s funeral service, which will be held at 2:30 p.m. Sunday at the Forest Lawn mausoleum, according to the Press Enterprise. It will be followed by a private burial.
Procession route from Ontario Airport
Eastbound (left) Jurupa Street
Northbound (left) Haven Avenue
Eastbound (right) 6th Street
Northbound (left) Milliken Avenue
Eastbound (right) Vintage Drive
Northbound (left) Rochester Avenue
Westbound (left) Banyan Street
Northbound (right) Milliken Avenue
Westbound (left) Wilson Avenue
Southbound (left) Haven Avenue
Westbound (right) Interstate 210
Southbound (left) 57 Freeway
Westbound (right) Interstate 10
Exit 40 onto Via Verde Street
Destination: Forest Lawn-Covina Hills, 21300 Via Verde Street, Covina.